MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

September 17, 2008

Parents again: Grandparents taking care of grandchildren

Oklahoma has sixth highest percentage in nation



Bobby Davis of Muskogee is raising four of his grandchildren, despite several huge challenges.

“My grandson Shayne is 10, my granddaughter Haeli is 8, my granddaughter Kamirah is 5, and my grandson Bobby II is 2 1/2,” he said. “I’m divorced, and I’m disabled after several bouts with cancer.”

Grandparents raising their grandchildren was once rare, but the U.S. Census Bureau now estimates that 2.5 million have this responsibility.

Oklahoma has the sixth highest percentage — 56.9 percent — of grandparents responsible for grandchildren who live with them, census data shows.

In Oklahoma, the American Association of Retired People says 57,601 children are living in grandparent-headed households.

Davis, 44, said that before three of his grandchildren enrolled in school, and he was trying to make it to doctors’ appointments in Tulsa, he tried to get help with daycare from the Department of Human Services.

“When I applied for childcare through DHS they actually tried to take the children away,” he said. “They said if I needed childcare I wasn’t capable of taking care of these children. So, needless to say, I pay for a baby-sitter when I need childcare out of my own pocket.”

There’s not much in that pocket, since Davis only has $1,100 in income each month. He said he has learned to make full use of coupons and sales, but barely makes ends meet. Although his life is focused on the children, he said he does not resent the extra responsibility.

“I feel like they saved my life, because when I was going though all the chemo and the radiation with the cancer, even though I didn’t feel like getting out of bed I had to; I was all they had,” he said.

Davis said his daughter is trying her best to improve her life to the point where she can take responsibility for the children.

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